THE WILD CONTAGION & I

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Robert Oppenheimer, the father of Atomic Bomb, once said, “There are no secrets about the world of nature. There are secrets about the thoughts and intentions of men.”

These ironic but indicting words from a renowned scientist may well sum up the sublime tragedy behind the Corona Virus crisis raging across the world. While nature has never played any games with us and has always been kind and benevolent, we, the so called “masters” of this planet, continue to play games with it, often at a severe cost to the entire mankind.

Imagine, not a bullet fired, not a bomb dropped anywhere, not a missile launched, and not even an Atom Bomb blasted, and yet you have about two hundred thousand people dead, and counting?

An invisible creature creeps out of an animal (or a Lab?) and jumps on to a human being and here you are, facing one of the greatest worldwide emergencies not seen by mankind since the second world war.

To rub salt on the wounds it has been given a cute and innocuous name too- COVID 19. Wow! looks like we are running a global contest, but with a difference; in this contest the opponent is invisible (of course I am being euphemistic!) and is running behind you. But there is no win-lose result or Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in this contest- You either win or die.

As the deathly roller coaster continues with no immediate end in sight, different countries across the world are traversing different paths on the COVID Curve, either climbing the curve, or approaching the peak , and as some are realizing that having just come down the peak, there’s probably another one staring at them?

In India too it has begun to spread its wings far and wide, though there has been a determined effort by the government and people of this country to reign in this curse and defeat it at any cost.

In a highly populous country like ours, with its brilliantly diverse, often contradictory and routinely self-defeating points of views, a full-scale onslaught of this pandemic would have led to disastrous consequences. Hence, we decided to take our own, and without doubt the toughest, route to face this pandemic (Okay WHO, at least now can I call it a pandemic?). We the 1.3 Billion plus people of this nation decided to lock ourselves down and remain indoors to throw the pandemic off guard and hopefully break its Gordian chain. The underlying theme was “Corona Virus will not seek you unless you go out and seek it!” And here we are in the fifth week of this unprecedented nationwide lock-down.

Now what has all this pandemic, its handling and its consequences meant to us all Indians?

One thing is for sure; a strong, decisive and purposeful leadership is what is required to face a calamity of this nature. Second, if you demonstrate an unwavering, genuine and clear-thinking purpose to your people, rest assured they will follow you up to the last moment. And of course, a well thought out communication strategy plays a crucial role in keeping the machinery well oiled and breakdown free.

And finally, what does a calamity like this mean to an ordinary Indian like me?

First and foremost, I am alive! So far so good! God bless us all!

I have felt and observed myself going through different phases of mental state as the Virus began to take a firm grip on us and the world around us.

It began with a sense of Curiosity, with the usual questions like What, Why, and How. And since we have seen quite a few of these viruses during the last decade or so, there was a hope that it will also vanish suddenly like SARS, H1N1, Ebola etc?  But as it turns out this “cute” thing called COVID-19 has no intention of going away so soon.

As it began to leap across national boundaries and stride oceans and people began to fall ill and die, the shocking realities began to unfold, which brought along with it Fear.

Then came the lock-downs. Initially the idea of a lock-down seemed quite amusing, but as the stories of human miseries combined with colossal economic collapse unfolded, fear was replaced by Anger. How can the lives of ordinary people and the countries they live in and the economies that keep them alive, be brought to a grinding halt? Are we still completely vulnerable to rogue nations, rogue governments and rogue institutions? Will the new wars be virus wars? Is this how nations hope to eradicate the global problems of hunger, climate and population?

But there are no answers forthcoming to these questions and what makes it more painful is the brazenness of some of the leaders of this world? And that brings me to the current state of my mind, Frustration!

The question now is, is there a silver lining in this dark cloud or is there any light at the end of the tunnel? I believe there is, and we will talk about it in my next part of this post.

 

                                                                                                                               ……to be concluded

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